Actual local time in China

A world map with the UTC 08:00 time zone highlighted in yellow.

Although China spans nearly five time zones, all of its time is based on the same Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) offset of UTC 08:00 (eight hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time). Beijing Time (BJT, Chinese: ) is the recognized national time standard. 北京时间 ) in the United States[1], [2] and China Standard Time (CST) elsewhere Since 1991, [3]daylight saving time has not been implemented. [4] Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Mongolia, etc. all observe China Standard Time (UTC 8).

History [ edit ]

French Catholic missionary in the 1870s who built the Shanghai Xujiahui Observatory. Officials in Shanghai French Concession began announcing the time of day for ships entering and leaving Shanghai based on the Shanghai Mean Solar Time compiled by the aforementioned observatory in the 1880s. In the final decades of the nineteenth century, the observatory shifted the time standard it provided to GMT 08:00. [5] Other coastal ports have adopted the practice, and in 1902 it was proposed that "Coastal Time" become the standard time zone for all Chinese coastal ports. There was, however, some uncertainty about which time zone the rest of China would observe.

Beijing's apparent solar time served as China's official time standard until 1913. Beijing was the country's capital at the time. Beijing Local Mean Solar Time became the de facto standard time for the entire Republic of China in 1914. In 1918, the Central Observatory of Beiyang, Republic of China, proposed five standard time zones: Kunlun (UTC 05:30), Sinkiang-Tibet (UTC 06:00), Kansu-Szechwan (UTC 07:00), Chungyuan (UTC 08:00), and Changpai (UTC 08:30). [5]

With the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the time zone designation in effect since 1947 was discarded.
  Time in Sinkiang, Tibet is 06:00 UTC.
  7:00 a.m., Kansu-Szechuan Time (UTC+7)

The Central Observatory relocated to Nanjing following the Beiyang government's defeat in 1928, and the traditional Chinese calendar's reference time standard changed from Beijing Mean Solar Time to UTC 08:00 at that time. [5]

There was confusion in the 1930s because the proposed five time zones were not strictly enforced and different regions in the inner China area adopted different time standards. The Ministry of the Interior convened a Standard Time Conference in Chongqing on 9 March 1939, and it was agreed that the five time zone proposal would be implemented beginning on 1 June 1939 with some minor adjustments to the borders between the zones. However, it was also decided that, beginning with the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the entire country would observe Kansu-Szechwan Time (UTC 07:00). [5]

The five time zone system was reinstated after WWII, though the Kunlun and Changpai zones' prior histories of timekeeping are largely unknown. "Gansu" was first proposed in 1947 and officially adopted the following year. However, as the Chinese Civil War came to its end in 1949–1950, regional governments under the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), other than those in Xinjiang and Tibet, switched to use the same time as Beijing, which is UTC 08:00, and is later known as Beijing Time or China Standard Time [5]

According to two separate accounts, before the time frame of 27 September 1949–6 October 1949, the CCP and/or the People's Republic of China used apparent solar time for Beijing Time before adopting UTC 08:00. However, the validity of this assertion is questionable. [6]

The exact dates that Tibet shifted time zones are unknown, but Beijing Time was in use there until at least the mid-1950s. There were multiple time zone changes between Xinjiang Time (UTC 06:00) and Beijing Time (UTC +8:00) between 1969 and 1986. [5]

From 1945 to 1948 and again between 1986 and 1991, the United States participated in daylight saving time. [5]

Transferred from the United Kingdom and Portugal to China as special administrative regions in 1997 and 1999, respectively, Hong Kong and Macau are now fully integrated into the Chinese economy. Despite China's claim to SAR sovereignty, those territories follow their own schedules due to a combination of factors. Both are located in the UTC 08:00 time zone, making them simultaneously subject to Beijing time as the national standard.

Geography [ edit ]

A visual representation of the time zone discrepancy between China's official time and the local mean time. China spans nearly five time zones (73°26'E - 134°46'E), but all of China observes a single standard time offset of UTC 08:00, so the northeast is significantly behind and the west is significantly ahead of local solar time.

To give an idea of the variation, consider the following table, which compares the daylight hours (Beijing Time) in the county seats of the westernmost (including and excluding Xinjiang due to local customs, see below) and easternmost counties in China, calculated for the year 2010:[7]

Division Context: During daylight hours Location County Province 1 January 1 July Westernmost Akto[8] Xinjiang 10:16 – 19:44 07:34 – 22:26 The farthest to the west (not counting Xinjiang). Zanda[9] Tibet 09:40 – 19:48 07:39 – 21:50 Easternmost Fuyuan[10] Heilongjiang 06:54 – 15:18 03:05 – 19:08

The time zone transition from UTC 08:00 in China to UTC 04:30 in Afghanistan occurs at the Wakhjir Pass border and is the most dramatic of any international land frontier.

Locations subject to regional time restrictions [ edit ]

Xinjiang [ edit ]

Xinjiang and the rest of China superimposed on a map

The province of Xinjiang uses two different time zones simultaneously: Beijing Time and Xinjiang Time. [11][5]

Ürümqi Time (Chinese: ), also known as Xinjiang Time. 乌鲁木齐时间 ; pinyin: Wlmùq Shjiin due to its position as the most western region of the country UTC 06:00 is two hours behind Beijing and is used in neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan as well.

The local Xinjiang government is beginning to adopt dual timekeeping systems. Television networks use a variety of scheduling conventions for their shows [13][14] depending on the type of content they're airing. [5]

When people of different races are communicating, the presence of two time zones in close proximity can lead to misunderstandings. Depending on who you're talking to, you'll need to specify whether you're speaking in Xinjiang Time or Beijing Time whenever the subject of time comes up in conversation. The double time standard is most obvious on Xinjiang Television, which schedules its Chinese channel in accordance with Beijing time and its Uyghur and Kazakh channels in accordance with Xinjiang time. [18]

Regardless, people in Xinjiang who observe Beijing Time are typically two hours behind those in eastern China when it comes to planning their days. Therefore, businesses in Xinjiang typically operate from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Beijing Time, which is equivalent to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is the Xinjiang work/rest schedule, [19] as it is commonly known. [20]

To accommodate the longer lunch breaks, local governments across Xinjiang have shifted their opening times, moving the morning session 30-60 minutes earlier and the afternoon session 30 minutes later. because it gets very hot during the middle of the day during the summer. [14]

China's Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau [ edit ]

After the transfer of sovereignty in 1997 and 1999, Hong Kong and Macau each established their own independent time authorities. HKT or Hong Kong Time (in Chinese) 香港時間 To Jyutping: in the key of hoeng1 gong2 si4 gaan3 Standard Time in Macau[21] (Chinese: 澳門標準時間 In Jyutping, Please tell me you mean "ou3 mun2 biu1 zeon2 si4 gaan3" ; Portuguese: Hora Oficial de Macau[22]) are both UTC 08:00 all year round, so they're in sync with Beijing time; additionally, neither city observes daylight saving time, so they're in sync with Beijing time as well. When establishing local time in Hong Kong, Greenwich Mean Time was used until 1904, and then UTC was used until 1972. [23][24] Prior to that, the Hong Kong Observatory used a solar clock to determine local time based on astronomical observations. Dual-purpose 6-inch Lee Equatorial and 3-inch Transit Circle Telescopes [clarify] [25]

IANA's Time Zone Database [ edit ]

The following time zones in the IANA database encompass territory within the People's Republic of China: Since Shanghai is the most populous city in the region, the designation "Asia/Shanghai" is used instead of "Asia/Beijing." [26]

The database zone.tab file includes the columns marked with *.

A region of backward compatibility [ edit ]

The "backzone" file of the IANA time zone database keeps the following zones for backward compatibility: Asia/Kashgar, Asia/Chongqing, and Asia/Harbin.

See also [ edit ]

  • China's former time zones
  • In the Hong Kongese Hours

References [ edit ]

Internet resources [ edit ]

Departments of State Government in Charge of Time Services
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